Alternative Worlds: Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Reviews

03rd April 2015

Fantasy and sci-fi book reviews

Alternative Worlds is a science fiction and fantasy book review site, written and published by accomplished reviewer Harriet Klausner. For more information, please check the About page.

Please feel free to use the links below to navigate to book reviews alphabetically, either by Author Name, or Book Title, or else use the main left-hand links to main genres, or most recent reviews.

Alternative worlds - Worlds of the Imagination - welcome, and please enjoy the site.

chronicles network: science fiction and fantasy forums Supported by the chronicles network

Books by GENRE:

Alphabetical by Author Name:

a | b | c | d | e | f | g | h | i | j | k | l | m | n | o | p | q | r | s | t | u | v | w | x | y | z

Alphabetical by Book Title:

a | b | c | d | e | f | g | h | i | j | k | l | m | n | o | p | q | r | s | t | u | v | w | x | y | z |

Latest Reviews

May 4, 2013

Oath Bound-Rachel Vincent

Filed under: Author: V,Title: P

Oath Bound
Rachel Vincent
Mira, Apr 30 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778314301

Sera Brandt remains below the radar scope as she prefers to hide from her family and even her power. Her father Jake Tower recently died leaving behind a wife and two children, not counting his illegitimate love child Sera. She arrives at her late dad’s guarded estate to see his sister, her Aunt Julia, who now runs the corrupt Skilled Tower criminal gang that Jake used to lead.

Kristopher Daniels has struggled to keep his sisters safe from the Tower and Ruben Cavazos’ mob; especially his youngest Kenley as her Binder skill is what the syndicates covet (see the other sibling Kori the shadow walker in Shadow Bound). With Kenly abducted, Kris interrupts the meeting between aunt and niece. He kidnaps an irate Sera; unable to explain to even himself his gut wrenching needs to keep her safe. As she concludes she is not a hostage negotiable pawn, Sera chooses his side over her biological family especially after her loved ones are attacked.

The third Unbound romantic fantasy Novel is an exciting action-packed tale. The lead couple is a dynamite pairing as neither trusts the other yet both conclude they need each other to take down the Tower; while each finds their attraction undesirable but overwhelming. Although fans should read the previous two Unbound novels (see Blood Bound) to better understand Vincent’s world and the overarching premise, Oath Bound is a fabulous climatic thriller.

Harriet Klausner

March 31, 2013

With All My Soul-Rachel Vincent

Filed under: Author: V,Fantasy,Title: W

With All My Soul
Rachel Vincent
Harlequin Teen, Mar 26 2013, $9.99
ISBN: 9780373210664

Avarice the hellion knows he has time on his side as he seeks Kaylee Cavanaugh by assaulting her loved ones. Kaylee struggles not to break but is under pressure because she knows she is the cause of what is happening to her friends, family and her high school. She considers giving up especially when her adversary abetted by his allies (Envy and Vanity) murders her BFF Emma.

Instead, Kaylee and Emma attend the latter’s funeral as the former found a body to host her friend’s soul. When Avarice attacks another of her loved ones, filled with out of control rage, Kaylee vows no more. Feeling locked in by her anger, she plans to take the war to the enemy even if it results in her final death as she expects will occur especially after encountering the last essence she wants to meet at this critical moment.

This is a terrific finish to the action-packed Soul Screamers third urban fantasy trilogy (see If I Die and Before I Wake); as the irate heroine decides with all her soul to go after her adversaries though she needs to let go of her current avenging attitude to calmly plan a counterattack. Although the storyline opens up a bit choppy, fans will enjoy the climax as Kaylee learns you can’t save everyone but will risk her existence to insure as many of her loved ones are safe.

Harriet Klausner

November 5, 2012

Undeadly-Michele Vail

Filed under: Author: V,Horror,Title: U

Michele Vail
Harlequin Teen, Nov 20 2012, $9.99
ISBN: 9780373210466

Molly Bartolucci’s father owns Big Al’s Zomporium; the place where a person can have someone recently deceased turned into a zombie. Wanting to just fit in at high school, Molly knows her ability to remove souls from bodies makes that difficult. On her sixteenth birthday she learns how hard it is when her boyfriend Rick kisses her, dies in an accident, and she sort of brings him back.

Anubis selects Molly as a reaper. Her long lost missing grandparents arrive sending her to Nekyia Academy for necromancer rookies. Rath the reaper, whose work she recently unraveled, is selected to mentor her. Rick follows her to the school. Soon afterward, students die and her mentor vanishes. Fearing Rick is involved, Molly investigates.

The first Reaper Diaries young adult fantasy stars a wonderful teenage who acts like a sixteen years old person as she struggles with all sorts of tsuris. The storyline is character driven by Molly who narrates the plot through her first person account and her dairy. Although readers obtain incredible insight into her and how she perceives the world (and beyond), the rest of the cast including the two males in her life are only seen though her filter and thus underdeveloped. Still, fans will appreciate unsinkable Molly Bartolucci reaper rookie.

Harriet Klausner

October 26, 2012

Sword of Queens-Joan Marie Verba

Filed under: Author: V,Fantasy,Title: S

Sword of Queens
Joan Marie Verba
FTL Publications, Oct 16 2012, $15.95
ISBN: 9781936881116

For over five centuries, Tashtalon the overlord has ruled the patriarchal kingdom of Somerlie with an evil iron fist. No one has ever seen Tashtalon but everyone knows of his presence especially at night when sleeping is dangerous. Each evening, Tashtalon puts his subjects to sleep two hours after sunset; and awakens them each morning two after sunrise with some vanishing overnight. No one has any hope of overthrowing this invincible malevolent God.

Twentyish Gill is like everyone else living in fear of the evil ruler; wondering if she will disappear next and knowing how helpless it is as nothing can defeat Tashtalon. Gill wonders why the overlord’s most enforced law is that no woman will yield a sword with the penalty of breaking his code instant death though she assumes it has to do with females being subservient to males. As she begins her required quest year “To Find Herself”, Gill thinks of her elderly grandma’s tales of life before Tashtalon. On her journey Gill learns that the magical Sword of Queens can destroy Tashtalon.

Sword of Queens is an excellent coming of age quest fantasy starring a likable heroine. The vibrant Verba world of magic seems real while the vile villain is made even stronger and eviler by the fearful whispers of his subjects. Sub-genre readers will enjoy Gill’s adventures in an engaging good and evil thriller.

Harriet Klausner

September 21, 2012

Valley of Dust-Karoleen Vry Brucks

Valley of Dust
Karoleen Vry Brucks
Xlibris Corporation, Aug 7 2012, $19.99
ISBN: 9781477125342

In Spruce Pine, North Carolina, as she attends the Penland School of Crafts and tends bar at night to eat, twentyish Selene Holmberg knows she has always been different even from her sisters while growing up in Raleigh. She was and remains the outsider.

A stranger assaults her with intention to rape Selene. Instead a silver haired individual comes out of the shadows, kills the predator, and vanishes back into shadows. Years ago, Lucian recognized Selene’s aura when she was a little girl; as a rare live born Strigoli from human parents like him and his brother Anton. He also believes Selene is his destiny after a millennium with no one. However, Anton, who was to keep her safe, and Selene meet and are attracted to one another.

Valley of Dust is an enjoyable vampire romance in which the Strigoli culture comes across fully developed to insure the undead species seems genuine although Selene the loner adjusts to quickly to fitting in with her world turned upside down. The key triangle is deftly established, as readers anticipate a sibling confrontation with the heroine being the prize.

Harriet Klausner

August 14, 2012

Brachman’s Underworld-Vlad Vaslyn

Filed under: Author: V,Fantasy,Title: B

Brachman’s Underworld
Vlad Vaslyn
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Jun 10 2012, $17.13
ISBN: 9781463698911

Raging Delilah Brachman visits Lowell General Hospital to see her dying father the colonel; whom she has not seen in twelve years. He apologizes for pushing her away when she was twenty, but Del tells him to stuff his too late at being there for her. Still she gives him hope that she forgives him but sarcastically dashes it with euphoria that he is dying. Del leaves only to get caught with a little boy in a crossfire between cops and a felon; she shields the child with her body.

When Del awakens she learns the only decent thing she did in her miserable life has given her temporary in-betweener status with six days to find a way to avoid oblivion. Her ticket is to ride the Tuesday Train while awaiting judgment. In her take no prisoners style Delilah battles Noc the diabolical lonely demon and Honest Jack the torturer. Combating this pair and other hellish, heavenly and outside entities is child’s play for acerbic Del who holds all with contempt as she rips asunder horns and halos by tearing away their veneer. However, Del faces internal strife when she meets Lucy who offered her friendship and is attracted to Kevin as her manta is the only good relationship is no relationship.

Sarcastic Delilah brings freshness to the afterlife in Other Lowell and Lowell with her attitude towards others humans, demons, believers, etc. as she makes Don Rickles seem more like Mother Theresa. Readers will surprisingly go from believing Del gets what she wrought to empathizing with her as her emotional defense mechanism in life and death is hammering others. The acrimonious protagonist makes Brachman’s Underworld a unique reading experience.

Harriet Klausner

August 8, 2012

Slow Apocalypse-John Varley

Slow Apocalypse
John Varley
Ace, Sep 4 2012, $25.95
ISBN 9780441017577

Eddie Parker worked on bacteria that would clean up oil spills and from there he soon became part of the Prometheus Project to increase oil production via enhancing pressure. However, Eddie conceals his secret agenda to unleash a bacterium that solidifies Saudi Arabian oil for what the country’s terrorists did on 9/11. At the Ghawar oil reserve, Eddie releases his destruction. Eddie’s plan deploys perfectly except for one minor nuisance. The solidification fails to stop in the Arabian Peninsula as the bacteria goes internationally viral.

In Southern California, screenwriter Dave Marshall learns from a government insider friend that his script on oil actually is happening around the globe. As he prepares to keep his family safe from the worst that is coming, the world collapses into deadly local chaos.

This is an entertaining post-apocalyptic thriller in which the Marshall plan leads to a happy solution for him, his family and his friends as fans will appreciate how much oil is a cog in the modern world and not just as a fuel. However, with the focus on an affluent in the know protagonist, the pandemic impact of the vanished oil implosion on the unaware and less fortunate lacking resources is not explored as that would have proven much more exciting and enlightening. Still readers will enjoy John Varley’s take on life without oil to grease the world.

Harriet Klausner

July 2, 2012

The Covert Wolf-Bonnie Vanak

Filed under: Author: V,Fantasy,Title: C

The Covert Wolf
Bonnie Vanak
Harlequin Nocturne, Jul 24 2012, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373885510

The mission of SEAL Team 21 top secret Phoenix Force is a counterterrorism ghost squad. This elite cell battle enemy paranormals. In Afghanistan, pyrokinetic demons abetted by the fae attack the team. Chief Petty Officer Adam “Wildcat” Barstow, a jaguar-shifter dies in the battle. His BFF SEAL Lieutenant Matthew “Dakota” Parker the Draicon werewolf rages at what happened including his failed attempt to rescue his buddy; making it worse is there is no body or even ashes to bring home to bury with honor.

On a train from Brooklyn to Times Square, lonely Dakota senses another paranormal. He wonders who hurt her making her frightened and filling her eyes with tears. Fae-Draicon hybrid (though she hides the werewolf side) Sienna McClare senses a werewolf, which adds to her fears as a beast like the one on the train raped and killed her purebred fae mother. She rides the mortal box underground to retrieve the stolen Orb of Light taken from her fae colony by most likely a Draicon. When they meet she tells Lassie to go home. However, to the chagrin of both, her aunt and his superior officer assign Sienna and Dakota to team up to find the Orb.

This is a great urban fantasy romantic suspense that grips the audience starting with the firefight in Helmond Province and what happens in the States as Bonnie Vanak makes her fae, Draicon and demons seem real like riding the subway. Fast-paced, the romance enhances the thriller as Sienna loathes being attracted to the same specie who raped and killed her mom. Dakota recognizes two missions: first retrieving the orb and taking down the pyrokinetic demons and second persuading his beloved to take a chance on love.

Harriet Klausner

June 24, 2012

Before I Wake-Rachel Vincent

Filed under: Author: V,Fantasy,Title: B

Before I Wake
Rachel Vincent
Haelequin Teen, Jun 26 2012, $9.99
ISBN: 9780373210619

Twenty-nine days ago, sixteen years old Kaylee Cavanaugh the bean sidhe banshee’s final soul scream was for herself when she was stabbed to death by an incubus math teacher (see If I Die). She has become a reaper working in the reclamation department for Madeline collecting souls. Her boss brought her back hoping a banshee reaper can end the serial soul stealing of an unknown thief. Her dad knows she is dead and she has a new boyfriend Tod the two and a half years old dead reaper at her side as well as Styx the netherworld Pomeranian guard dog.

Now Kaylee faces her greatest challenge yet when she returns to high school pretending to be alive as her death was local headline news. Madeline assigns her to recapture a soul taken by a rogue reaper at the donut shop as a training exercise. Kaylee rushes to the donut shop where she meets Thane the reaper who killed her mom thirteen years ago. He wants Kaylee dead, and was sent to hell by Rod. Using her banshee skills, she takes the soul to Madeline and with seconds to spare makes it to Eastlake where her former boyfriend Nash is. Now she balances life at school with collecting souls and uncovering the identity of the soul thief who makes the war personal.

The latest Soul Screamers young adult urban fantasy (see My Soul to Keep and My Soul to Save) is a great entry with a stunning climax. Fast-paced from the moment Kaylee faces Thane over the soul of the donut shop owner, fans will appreciate this super entry as Rachel Vincent continues to shake up things in the world of Kaylee Cavanaugh.

Harriet Klausner

June 16, 2012

No Going Back-Mark L. Van Name

No Going Back
Mark L. Van Name
Baen, May 29 2012, $22.00
ISBN: 9781451638103

Jon the hybrid nano-machine-human obsesses when it comes to keeping children safe. He knows he is a compulsive psychotic over this as he is the result of horrid experiments as a child on Aggro over a century ago. His “partner” Lobo the sentient assault shuttle knows Jon is insane when it comes to kids, but though he grumbles about their suicide rescue missions, he feels the same way as he was created by gruesome experiments on children.

The pair learns of ten abducted kids being sold to the highest bidders. Though Lobo objects to the poorly rushed plan filled with perilous unnecessary risks; the pair intercedes rescuing the youngsters, but not before a very wealthy patron sees Jon’s face. Jon knows he should execute this deviant, but does not while the pedophile vows vengeance.

Meanwhile Jon finds out his first love is dying. Over the grumbles of Lobo, he goes to say goodbye though he alters his appearance as he trusts no one since he believes there are plenty out there who would return him to being a lab rat as he still tries to conceal even from Lobo his essence of being a nano-machine-human.

This terrific Jon-Lobo entry is filled with the irony of readers knowing the half-human hero’s childhood (see Children No More) while almost no one else does; that is until now as Jon’s paranoia proves justified. Fast-paced from the onset even with Jon thinking about his past and filled with A Modest Proposal sarcasm that Jonathan Swift would appreciate, this is a fabulous science fiction thriller that series fans will enjoy as we learn more about Jon and Lobo’s history.

Harriet Klausner

Next Page »

Warning: include(): http:// wrapper is disabled in the server configuration by allow_url_include=0 in /home/altworld/public_html/wp-content/themes/classic/index.php on line 284

Warning: include( failed to open stream: no suitable wrapper could be found in /home/altworld/public_html/wp-content/themes/classic/index.php on line 284

Warning: include(): Failed opening '' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/altworld/public_html/wp-content/themes/classic/index.php on line 284